Sunday, February 19, 2017

Tunics - Slim or Swim

 I am still experimenting with different styles to wear to work, since the dress code went to anything goes casual 2 years ago.   I read style blogs for "mature" women , with topics like how to wear cropped pants, over the knee boot, best skirt length, etc.  I  participate in online “determine your style” challenges.  I carefully consider the “wear a scarf that echoes your personal coloring” or “wear simple garments with statement necklaces” advice. All quite interesting, but when I try many of these recommendations, I always feel I am physically fighting style and color preferences that are deeply etched in my brain tissue. Now I understand why my Aunt Sylvia stuck with her beehive hairdo and dressed strangely for many years.  

Recently I decided to try adding some tunic tops in my work wardrobe.

The first one was See and Sew  B6272,  which is the same pattern as Vogue 8962, minus the skirt. Both are now out of print. 
Vogue  8962


Yes, I am really late to the party. There are many versions/reviews online that I did not read until after I made mine, which was a good thing.  I selected the See and Sew pattern based on the line drawing ( the pattern front picture is ugly!) because it had a slim silhouette and some interesting seaming. There is a back yoke and the lower back pieces are cut on  the bias and wrap around to the front. Great seaming to use with a stripe or linear patterned fabric.  My fabric was a gray, black white abstract stripe knit purchased from  the Louise Cutting booth at the sewing Expo.  It was expensive, so I had only purchased 1.5 yards.  Not enough fabric to make this tunic with the cowl collar. And the neckline without the cowl collar was way too deep and wide. I added back 1 inch on each side of the neck and  2 inches at center front.  I finished the neck with  self-fabric binding.

  I did not have any of the fit issues,  or criticism of lack of fullness in the back or side seam pulling, that were prevalent in the negative reviews.  I think because  this is a slim fit tunic,  the location and contour of a individual’s hip/butt curve  has a big impact on the fit. There were no finished garment measurements on the pattern pieces so I did the measuring myself  before cutting, to ensure the size I was making had enough ease.  I made a size 14 which had 7 inches of ease over my hip body measurement. I wore the tunic to work  with jeggings ( Eddie Bauer travel pant) and a skirt (Pamela perfect pencil  skirt).  I got asked why I was so dressed up when I wore it with the skirt.

Slim tunic with jeggings

Slim tunic back

Slim tunic with skirt

My second tunic sew  was a Nancy Zieman pattern, McCall's 7474, a very loose-fitting tunic with a deep cowl neckline, front insert, back V-shaped insert and shaped hemline.

When a fellow sewer brought her version of this  tunic, made in an ombre fabric, to the sewing guild meeting Show and Tell, I was smitten. I had the perfect  fabric in my stash. Gray/cream marled  poly lycra knit with brown ombre overprint borders, from the G Street Fabrics $2.97 table.  I bought the pattern on the way home from the meeting and finished the tunic the  next day.  The seaming on this tunic was perfect for highlighting the ombre shading. But oh my, there a lot of fabric in  the flare of this tunic. 20 inches  of ease over  my hip measurement. All very drapey and swirly, but I  felt like I was swimming in fabric. And  I made a size M even though my measurements put me squarely in a size 16 or L. Below is the tunic worn with wide leg pants. It doesn't look bad, but it is definitely a " hide my body shape" look.

McCall's 7474 front

McCall's 7474 Side

McCall's 7474 Back

I wore it to work with stretch woven grey jeggings (Walmart).

McCall's 7474  with jeggings

I was comfortable, but very aware of all the fabric.  I had to make sure to gather up the fabric in the back when using the toilet, to avoid accidental dipping.  I actually got a compliment from a male coworker who said "You look nice in that outfit." It is both telling and sad that my first thought on hearing this was "Gee Mark, you must be overdue for  anti-harassment training refresher."  Our corporate  training on that subject is so severe it suggests not making any compliments on a person's appearance, lest it be interpreted negatively.

The pattern is easy to make and the instructions were good. Only puzzler was they have you cut fusible interfacing in 3/8" bias strips and apply them to  the hems , necklines and armholes, aligning the edge of  the interfacing to the edge of the fabric. That means the interfacing is 1/4 from the seam line.  I would think it would be important to interface/stabilize the seam line on the neck line and armhole, not the edge of the fabric.  And the interfacing on the hem edge, I was not sure what the purpose of that was. I had a mental discussion  with Nancy  Z. on those instructions, and decided to use the Burda method instead.  Which is to apply interfacing strip over the seam line, and  only on armholes and neck seam lines.

Conclusion, I will wear the 1st tunic more than the second. And both with jeggings.


  1. You look nice in both tops, but the first look is stunning.

  2. I like both of your renditions. I tend to like slimmer looks better. Too much fabric tends to over power me.

  3. Both tunics are very nice and I especially like the gray/black/white one. I sometimes put fusible knit interfacing on hems - it can give them a little more weight- but that is usually a wider strip that is then caught in the hem (hand) stitching. The directions with the narrow strips is perplexing.

  4. Both tunics are lovely. If you don't try out different styles, you won't be able to pick your favourite.
    Have to smile at the vagaries of fashion. Not that long ago anything not fitted almost to the point of seams popping was considered sloppy. Now many silhouettes are so voluminous they can swallow you up. Staying "current" is sooo difficult.

  5. The See and Sew/Vogue is one of my favorites. Yours looks wonderful in that fabulous fabric. Both tunics are lovely on you.

  6. Poor Mark, how close he came! I like both tunics as well, but I really love the back detail of the brown bordered one.

  7. Great tunics! But I love the looser looking one on you. Maybe it's your choice of drapy fabric, the length, or your height/figure, I don't think it swamps you. In fact you look quite chic & statuesque! The other Tunic is perhas more practical for everyday life, but you in that 2nd tunic's would certainly turn my head. Would that be consider sexual harassment? 😉 It is a shame that compliments on look are Verbotten. While no one wants to be judged purely on appearance, seems a bit harsh & cold to forbid such compliments especially if there's nothing sexual in the compliment like being called "sexy" or "hot".

  8. Both are beautiful! I am partial to the first one as well- great use of the stripes. What an interesting reaction to your coworker's compliment. I often tell men if I like their ties- I wonder what they might think!

  9. love the first one and the way the stripes get places is really interesting visually. plus the shape is great on you. Not so much on the 2nd one - I think it is too much fabric especially the collar.

    1. Beth, I also thought the collar was a bit too big on the second one. A lot of fabric right on the bust.

  10. I think both tops look great on you and the fabrics are really interesting too. I think when you have a top with a lot of volume they look best with skinny pants or a fitted skirt - as you have done!

  11. I like both outfits and think they look great on you but 7474 really looks nice.

  12. I have always thought you have great style - no need to follow all the rules when you have good intuition. Some of us though have less reliable intuition, give in to curiousity over practicality, are overly swayed by how good it looks on the young slim model, and in these cases being tied down by rules becomes very useful.

  13. Mary Nanna, Good to hear from you. I always enjoyed your blog. Make It Smirk. Hope you are still sewing.

  14. Well, this makes me miss the G Street $2.97 table! I still have some finds from there however. Helpful to see how these 2 contrasting styles look on you....I prefer the slimmer cut - maybe in a linen knit for upcoming swelter season?


    1. The tunic in a linen knit is a great idea. The linen knits in my stash are thin and slightly transparent. They would look great over a tank top and slim pants in the same color.